Opinion: U.S. Nationals 2012: What Was Done Right, How It Can be Improved, and My Take on the Loss of Top Cut.

by Pikkdogs ~ July 19th, 2012.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs here with an opinion article.  We are still in a down time here in the Pokemon world, since I don’t have much to talk about, I thought I would go over some thoughts about Nationals.  In a couple weeks we will have a new set and a new format to talk about, but right now we don’t know much about our format and the only people still playing in the older format are, as Team Warp Point likes to say, keeping things “close to the chest.”  So let’s have a discussion about how to make Nats better, than I will look at the breaking news about Battle Roads that we receieved yesterday.

Before we get into the discussion, let us invite my extra-dimensional sidekick Pedro in to do a news article for us, maybe he will tell us a funny story to save this sorry article from being the crap we all know it will be.  Pedro, what do you have for us today.

Today we have some news about your ancestoral homeland Pikkdogs.

Oooo, some Finnish news, love the Finnish news.  What is it today, another bleach blonde rock band have a fight or something?

No, no rockband, this time it is aliens.  It seems that divers have found a large unidentifiable object off of the coast of Finland.  It is believed to have been down there since the last Ice Age.  While some people think it is just a rock, others state that it does not look like just any old rock.  For some reason silt from the water does not stick to it like it would a rock, there are also evidence of some kind of workmanship on the object, such as straight lines and designs.  While the object is not made of metal, a researcher states that its disc like design could make it appear to be like a typical UFO regardless of the fact that it is not made of metal.  There is no law that states that space craft must be made of metal, not yet anyway.  What do you think about this Pikkdogs?  Do ya think this could be aliens? 

Who knows, possibly.  Maybe its just a weird rock that ancient beings carved things into.  The thing could have been covered up by a flood years ago for all we know.

True, but it kind of seems like a space craft.  But then again why would aliens want to go to Finland, not much there other than fish and saunas. 

Hey, that’s my ancestoral homeland you are talking bout there.

Sorry, well I guess Finland is near Sweden, maybe the aliens were looking for some ancient Swedish blondes. 

Seems like a sound theory.  Well, I guess we didn’t find any aliens today, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

True, they could be out there helping a fat blogger write an article. 

Could be.

Changes to Nationals 2012: What Worked

There were some great things about Nationals 2012 compared to the 2011 version.  The most obvious thing was that we did not have that awful re-pairing that we saw in 2011.

For those that were lucky enough not to be there in 2011, I will explain to you what happened.  We were called to the player’s meeting much as we were this year.  The wait after the meeting was a little longer than expected, but it wasn’t that bad.  Than they released us to look at our round 1 pairings and we sat down.  That is where the trouble started.

A lot of people were paired against opponents that never showed up.  There were way too many to just ignore, I want to say the number was about 75 but I could be wrong, so they decided to re-pair a lot of the matches.  This was not a 5 minute re-pair, it took a long time for the judges to figure things out.  I don’t remember the exact time it took to get the round going, but I would say it was probably around 45 minutes if not more.  To add up all the wasted time would give you at least an hour, probably much more, of wasted time while we waited for round 1 to start.  Needless to say, this did not go over to well for the players.

In 2012 the first day went very very smoothly.  We hardly waited at all between rounds, and there was almost no wait between the players meeting and the first round.  I was very happy with the efficiency of the judges and the staff, they worked together like a well oiled machine.  So the smoothness of day 1 was no doubt a plus for 2012 Nats.

Another great thing at Nats was the registration process.  In 2011 we just walked up to a table and wrote down our name and pop id number during registration.  This changed for 2012.  This year the judges had a list of players, and you were to go alphabetically arranged tables to get checked off (on) the list.  This made it possible for the staff to easily tell if people were qualified to play or not.  Although the tables were not well marked, there were staff around to guide us to the right tables, so that was good.  While this was great for the main tournament, it was excellent for the Professor Cup.  Last year we had the controversy of the winner of the Professor Cup not being qualified to enter, this year they actually checked if you were qualified before they let you in.  Last year was a disaster, professors felt cheated that the general public was being allowed to enter something that should honor them.  These changes in registration stopped these hurt feelings and made the event run much smoother.

The next great thing relates to the first one, the fact that T-Shirts were given out on the second day.  The T-shirts are nothing special and didn’t come in my size, but they were still pretty cool, and you can’t get mad at something free.  Anyway, this year the T-shirts were given out after the last round in day 1.  This may or may not have been a good thing, if it was a good thing it sure did the job.  The judges in 2011 blamed the long round 1 delay on the fact that people just wanted the t-shirts, and then decided to drop.  I don’t know who would take time out of their day just to get a cheap ass shirt, but apparently the judges thought that this was what was going to happen.  I don’t know exactly why, but round 1 did go by very quickly, it may not have had anything to do with the shirts getting handed out on day 1, but since things went smoothly, it just might have.

I don’t want to talk about the other things that I liked about the tournament too much, but I do want to touch on them a little.  The 64 man pod tournaments after the end of day 2 did turn out very well, even though they almost fell victim to the infamous lunch break that didn’t really happen (more on that later).  League play and the side tournaments seemed to do well, they weren’t perfect, but I can’t think of a way to improve them.  I have heard some people suggest that they add another table for people giving out prizes, this would speed up that infamously slow line.  Although, it may just cause people to take prizes without actually playing a game since the lines would be much faster.  If the lines were only 5 minutes long you could go through two lines and get 2 prizes as easily as you could if there were only one line.  Maybe a slow line is what we need for that area.  I did also like the shops that were at the convention center.  Although the prices were too high, I still enjoyed looking through stuff even though I am too poor to actually buy anything.

What Needs to Be Improved

Here are some improvments that I think they could make for next year.

The first things I want to complain about are the long delays on day two. The delays even forced some people to miss their lunch break on day 2, and that means a lot considering the lunch break was scheduled to be a lot later than it was the previous day.  It was safe to say that everybody was hungry after the first couple rounds.  I know that these delays were not the fault of the judges like they were in 2011, but they were the fault of players taking way too long to finish their games.  I don’t wanna point any fingers but, cough Pooka cough (j/k Pooka, love ya).  I know that the +3 format is doing well in keeping games going quickly, but certain decks can make turns go by very slowly.  This not really anything that the management should change just to make one tournament go faster, but maybe they should have slightly rules for Nationals.  Perhaps at Nationals the judges should be able to institute timed turns, or something to make sure that turns go by very quickly after a certain pre-determined time.  I know doing weird rules like this could end up angering people, but perhaps the speed of Nationals for 1000 people should supercede that of 2 people that are taking their sweet time.  Another possible solution is splitting the tournament into more flights, and letting the flights run independent schedules.  This could confuse people, but it would let people keep on playing as long as they aren’t in a group with a slow moving game.  Even if they don’t make more flights, they could do the same thing with the two flights they do have now.

On a related note, I think that it is time to text us our pairings.  There is just too many people playing now for all of us to go up to a couple boards and look for our names.  Almost all of us have phones, and the ones that don’t can still go to a board to look for a pairing.  I don’t know for sure, but it seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to link our phone number to our POP ID, and to have a text automatically sent once the pairings are up.  They would have to test it out and I know the system wouldn’t be perfect or needed for every tournamnet, but I think it is something that is needed for Nats.

On a related note to the last topic, the game is growing really fast.  Even though there were restrictions on who could attend Nationals this year, we still had the biggest attendance at any tournament ever!  We were just a couple dozen people away from getting a top 256.  Unless the game takes a nose dive for some reason, or the credentials for getting into the tourney are raised, we will have two top 128s next year.  I don’t know if the staff is ready for that.  We will need to probably take the top 64 in to day 3, which would be different.  There are also other time related questions to answer for next year.  This year the professor cup was held at night on days 1 and 2 (maybe three, I don’t know), this left a long day for the professors and the Juniors (who judge the event).  They were already held back until past 10 P.M. each day, we don’t need to make the day longer than it already is.  Perhaps the Professor Cup needs to go back to Sunday, or possibly start it on Thursday night.

Speaking about Thursday night, maybe something should happen on Thursday.  Even though the main tourney doesn’t need to start right away, perhaps they can bring back the draft on Thursday night.  It would give us something to do after 5 P.M.  Someone should try to do something on Thursday night even if it is just a little thing, it is better than what we have now.

Another place where a lot of people think that we can improve Nationals is in the streaming matches area.  The boys from The Top Cut tried to tape some matches, but they were only allowed to do it on a couple top cut matches, and were locked out of the finals.  I think it is time for Nintendo to step up and do some streaming themselves, we shouldn’t have to have a third party come in and do the coverage.  This way it could be professionally done and streamed to people all over the world.  Even if the Top Cut is the only plan they have to stream matches, they should work with them ahead of time to make sure that games from each round are streamed.  This is something that can be fixed easily, so it should be done.

The End of Top Cut?

I am done with talking about Nats, but this is not a super long article and a news piece was just announced that fits an opinion article very well.  During my favorite season of the year, Fall Battle Roads, there will no longer be any top cut rounds.  Meaning that the winner will be crowned by how well you do in Swiss rounds, and how your tie breaking percentages end up.  This was quite a shocking announcement, and I was pretty mad when I first heard the news, but now I have returned to sanity and am able to weigh both sides of the issue.  So here is my opinion on the elimination of Top Cut.  We will start by looking at the advantages of getting rid of Top Cut, than we will look at why it might be a bad choice, next we will look at how this might effect your deck and card choices, and finally I will give you my honest opinon on this issue.

There are good things about getting rid of the Top Cut rounds.  One good thing is that the Fall Battle Roads will be just like the current college football system, without the bowl games.  This means that every game is very important, you will no longer be able to have a bad game and still have a hope at winning it all.  You must now be on your game at all times, this means that games will be more intense because until you lose, every game will be very very important.  I guess you can say that every game is an elimination game now.    This should make for some very exciting games.  Another good thing is that this decision will save us a lot of time.  If the tournament is 5 rounds and you lose round 3 or 4, you may not want to waste any more time and be able to drop a couple hours earlier than you would if there was a top cut.  It also saves time for judges because they no longer have to wait for the top cut rounds to end.  I do understand that less people will be in the hunt for the win now, but it does speed things up considerably in a tournament where winning is not that important, and not too many Championship Points are up for grabs.   Another good thing about not being able to win with a loss now is that it forces people to play more consistent decks.  This could lead to more fun, balanced match-ups instead of a lot of donks.

Of course, there are also bad things about getting rid of Top Cut.  One bad thing is that just one string of bad luck can ruin your whole day, even if you know your deck is better than your opponent’s.  Just one donk now is good enough to stop you from winning your tournmanet.  Another bad thing is that the tournamnet as a whole will be less exciting.  Sure there will be a couple games each round that are very exciting, but the majority of the players will not be very excited because they know they will never be able to win.  Most people like having a chance to win, even though they know it is a long shot.  The final bad thing that I will be talking about is the fact that attendance could go down for these tournmanets.  Even though people usally don’t travel far for Battle Roads, sometimes people do drive a couple hours.  It is very possible that people will now not travel as far if they know that their chances of winning could be foiled by just 1 string of bad luck.  With the previous format people can think that they can use their skills to undo any bad luck that they might encounter, now just 1 aspect of bad luck will kill your day.  I think people will not travel as far if they think that they have a lower chance of winning.

Before I talk about my opinion of this news, I will talk about how this effects deck building.  Now that you can’t afford any bad luck, consistency is more important than ever.  I think that I will play less techs in my decks now, and I will play more consistency cards.  I don’t know what these consistency cards will be, but they could be more drawing supporters and cards like Emolga DRE (that allows you to search for two basics for a one energy attack).  Pokemon that let you draw cards with an attack or Ability will also be very very good in case you run into some bad luck.  Another tip is to not play decks with low HP basics.  I think that if I am worried about the donk, I wouldn’t play anything under 70 HP.  Tornadus EX can hit for 60 on the first turn without too much luck, so you want to have at least 70 HP to avoid him.  There is also a chance that possibly Darkrai EX might be attacking for 90 very quickly, so maybe having decks that only run BBP (Big Basic Pokemon) might be safer.  I might also want to run more copies of basic Pokemon and more Pokemon search cards, so you don’t lose after an early knock out.  It seems that because of the enw rules, Fall Battle Roads will emphasize the need of consistent decks that are bad luck proof.

I think that elminating the Top Cut rounds for Battle Roads is a decent thing for Pokemon to try.  There is no doubt that there are bad things about it, and that doing this is a huge risk, but its nice to see that Pokemon has enough huevos to take a chance.  Running with this format might encourage less attendance and more drops, but it will still be exciting.  Even if you lost a game, the day is not over, you can still pick up championship points and prizes for getting in the top 4 or 8.   The decision to cut top cut rounds will actually not impact the majority of players, it will only effect around 4 players, while the other 30 some players will encounter the same situations that they would before.  If we can shorten your day without screwing up things for the majority, that is a really good thing.  This also makes things easier for the judges, which is a nice thing.  This decision will also help make every game very interesting, so we are ready to see some games that mean a lot.  These close games will be great to experience and watch.  So what if the last round is not as exciting for 10 people, each game will now be very exciting for most people.  The same people will still be vying for some prizes, they just won’t be able to win 1st prize if they do get one of the top spots.  Even though I think that Pokemon should have waited till Spring Battle Roads to try this experiment, I do think that this could be a positive thing.  But, I am not gaga over it, and this decision may end up hurting the game.  Only time will tell.


Well, that’s all I got for you guys. Pedro why don’t you give us another science related news article before we leave.

Okay, another news piece from the world of science is given to us from the Christian Science Monitor.  NOAA, the Nationals Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, recently released a news report denying the exsistence of mermaids.  Some people recently began believing that the fabled creatures could exsist after some scientists have backed an “Aquatic Ape Theory”, stating that humans could have had a human like ancestor that was aquatic.  Do you believe that humans have a relative that lives in the sea?

No, that would be preposterous.  We all know from watching Dr. Who that our ancestors live underground near the core of the earth and look like dinosaur type things.

I refute the scientific validity of Dr. Who, if they are right than almost every interesting thing in human history leads back to London, don’t you think sometimes they would be somewhere else? 

Okay, so maybe they aren’t exactly accurate.  But they always have cute girls on there, that should count for something.

Oh, I think this is another excuse to show a racy picture. 

Excelent idea.

Good Night Everybody!

Category: Opinion | Tags: , ,